IF YOU, or SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT, IS HAVING PROBLEMS related to divorce, custody, child support, paternity fraud or domestic relations in general, click here...
Welcome to the ACFC Military Members Page
We appreciate our service members and understand your concerns about family law and court related issues. A dedicated group exists to help you, help yourself. Join with us, service to your country should not result in warfare in your home...at the end of the article are several resources and a way for you to become involved in reforming family law...read on...
Military Parents – Unique Circumstance
There are presently more than 1,000.000 service members in rotation. Some 70% are married with families. The overall ratio of male to female in the military is approximately 85% male to 15% female. 98.5% of military personnel engaged in combat are men and 93.1% of veterans are men. Active military parents continue to play a vital role in protecting this nation.
Military families encounter unique circumstances. Thousands of miles and extended periods of time often separate military spouses and their children. Children can be separated at important times in their development as a result of a parent’s military responsibilities. The stress on both parents and children can be substantial.
Divorce, Custody and Child Support
Divorce is a reality for all too many military families. Divorce overwhelmingly impacts military fathers and is increasingly affecting military mothers (Women Warriors, IAVA Issue Report, October 2009).
Divorce and its attendant issue, child support, is of concern for both enlisted personnel and called up reservists. Recent studies by Rand Corporation and the GAO indicate there are specialties where called up reservists can receive less pay in their military positions than they receive in their civilian positions. When this happens the results may be catastrophic for the service member. Military service should not be an excuse to deny service members access to their children or result in accumulating child support arrears. Loss of driving privileges, passport revocation, bank account seizures and jail are some of the enforcement vehicles available to child support collection agencies when arrears accumulate.
Service members who experience divorce while deployed, or are otherwise subject to ongoing domestic relations related civil litigation while far from home face immensely complicated challenges. The Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA) formerly the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) is intended to stop some of the apparent abuses and injustices that service members experience in civil court proceedings. Having legal representation and/or knowledge of the law and how to use the law properly is important. There is some good legislation designed to protect military personnel however more needs to be done to ensure that military service members, both men and women are not abused by the nation they have taken an oath to protect and defend.
Failed Relationships, Mental Health and Suicide
Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) and related emotional conditions are significant in the veteran community. So is suicide. Suicide in the veteran community is now higher than suicide in the general population. With more than 1,000,000 men and women in military rotation conservative estimates are that many thousands of returning veterans are suffering from PTSD. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the behavioral health psychiatry consultant to the U.S. Army surgeon general and roundtable participant, said there is currently little statistical evidence linking suicide with the number and length of soldiers’ deployments. She further stated, “failed relationships are believed to be the cause of 70-80 percent of suicides”, and that deployment-linked stress definitely could be a factor behind strained relationships (National Guard News, Arlington VA, 8-20-07). The destruction of his or her family appears to be the single most significant contributing factor to a veteran’s suicide.
Resources for Service Members:
The ABA has assembled material which will help you understand how 'the system' works. Below are several links:
- Facts and Fiction
- Judges and SCRA
- Overseas Divorce
- Pension: His Take
- Pension: Her Take
- Child Support
Department of Defense and the Veterans’ Administration officials are studying the problem attempting to understand why veterans are increasingly taking their lives. Marine Corps General James Amos summed it up saying, "We have looked at the data to try to find answers that will enable us to address this needles loss of life. .... The most likely cause is a failed relationship with a woman." ACFC's dedicated military affiliate, Second Class Citizen, has put together a graphic video on this problem which can be viewed here.
In our society a failed relationship with a spouse has real consequences that can include being reduced to a second class citizen who is stripped of possessions, dignity and, most importantly for fathers and increasingly some mothers, stripped of a meaningful relationship with their children. Many veterans who are forced to engage in battle in a family court are forced to live on the street. Many military men are victims of paternity fraud.
Parents in the military and veterans are easy targets for relationship calamity and afforded no protection from civil litigation while deployed. Nor are they afforded respect and an even-handed dispensing of ‘justice’ in family court proceedings. The manner by which family laws are written and interpreted and the way family courts generally treat military fathers and some mothers must be re-evaluated. Changes are needed that promote civility not hostility.
ACFC stands with all military parents and their children. ACFC salutes military parents and acknowledges with sincere respect the unique sacrifices that military parents make for the nation and for their families.